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How I Navigate the Monday Blues with Chronic Depression

Managing Depression

December 26, 2023

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Photography by Hernandez & Sorokina/Stocksy United

Photography by Hernandez & Sorokina/Stocksy United

by Nandini Maharaj

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Medically Reviewed by:

Joslyn Jelinek, LCSW

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by Nandini Maharaj

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Joslyn Jelinek, LCSW

•••••

•••••

Dreading the start of the week isn’t fun for anyone. Read on to learn more about this phenomenon, what it means for depression, and tips to help cope.

You’re not imagining it. As the weekend draws to a close, you might find yourself wincing at the thought of returning to work. Why can’t it just be Friday again?

What I’m describing is the Monday blues — a sense of dread that some people experience as they start the week, particularly when they work Monday–Friday. A 2020 study lends support to the Monday blues, finding that workers experience lower job satisfaction and more job stressors at the start of the workweek compared to later in the week.

I know how hard it can be to feel rested and motivated when your mood is low. For anyone living with chronic depression, the Monday blues can be an added burden.

Here’s what to know about this phenomenon, including the symptoms, triggers, and tips on how to cope with the Monday blues.

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What are the Monday blues?

The Monday blues is a feeling of dread or sluggishness as you transition from the weekend to Monday morning. While this isn’t a clinical disorder or diagnosis, it may signal that something in your life is detracting from your happiness and well-being.

The results of a 2012 study of more than 340,000 people found that weekends are more strongly associated with positive moods compared to weekdays. This pattern is true across different ages and among retirees, suggesting that the effect isn’t entirely due to the stress of the work week.

According to the study, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in mood between Monday and other weekdays. But when Friday is included in the definition of the “rest of the week,” Mondays have a connection to lousy moods.

Likewise, a 2011 meta-analysis shows there’s a small but reliable Monday blues effect. 

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What are the symptoms?

Since it’s not a disorder, there aren’t any clinical signs of the Monday blues. Instead, symptoms are based on anecdotal reports and share some overlap with physical and emotional responses to stress.

“Symptoms” of the Monday blues can include the following:

  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • low energy
  • upset stomach
  • tense muscles
  • increased heart rate
  • elevated blood pressure
  • headaches
  • shallow breathing

What can trigger the Monday blues?

Personal habits can contribute to the Monday blues. After getting up early all week, I can’t help but sleep in longer on weekends and stay up later to catch up on the TV shows I missed during the week.

We tend to relax our sleeping and eating habits on weekends. Maybe we indulge in pancakes over brunch after snoozing the alarm clock.

Another common source of the Monday blues is our lifestyle and, more specifically, not having a work-life balance. Negative feelings might be more likely to carry through to Monday if our boss or clients expect us to respond to emails outside of work hours.

Dissatisfaction with our job can also make routine tasks seem more daunting. For example, when I’m dreading a work meeting or deadline, I’m more likely to procrastinate or feel agitated by a simple request.

Our thought patterns can also affect our mood. Examples include “I don’t have any say in what I do at work,” “My family is mad at me for not spending enough time with them,” or “I don’t feel like my boss values my contributions.”

These thoughts can also affect our sleep. We might be awake at night worrying about job insecurity or having difficulty with a lack of control over our work hours or assigned tasks.

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How do the Monday blues impact people living with depression?

Feelings of sadness or a lack of energy are common with both the Monday blues and depression. However, they’re not the same thing. The Monday blues is a concept confined to certain hours of the week, whereas depressive symptoms can persist for most of the day or almost every day.

Another difference is that depression is caused by multiple factors like genes, biology, the environment, and a person’s psyche. The Monday blues often occur in response to a specific stressor like work or unpleasant routines.

Feeling emotionally or physically drained by our responsibilities can lead to a type of stress called burnout. Experiencing job burnout can affect our mental health and increase the risk of becoming depressed.

With chronic depression, you might feel worse on Mondays. As the days go by and this feeling doesn’t let up, it can reinforce the sense of dread surrounding work.

And the lower our mood, the more reactive we may feel in response to stress. Learning ways to better manage stress might help you combat the Monday blues.

Coping with the Monday blues

As we know from living with depression, practicing self-care can be helpful. Here are some tips for getting ahead of the Monday blues.

  1. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule: To the extent possible, try to avoid going to sleep much later than your usual bedtime. An irregular sleep schedule might contribute to feeling less rested and more irritable about waking early again.
  2. Get regular exercise: Consistent activity is important for your well-being. On days when you may want to skip the gym, try a hike or a stroll in the park instead.
  3. Set boundaries: Since depression is linked to burnout, it’s important to have some separation between work and free time. This may involve setting boundaries with clients or rearranging your schedule for Monday so that you’re not inundated with meetings or big projects the first day back at work.
  4. Let it out: One way to tackle negative thoughts is through journaling or Facetiming a loved one for a quick venting session. Just keep in mind that the goal is to release stress and identify what’s making Mondays so distressing.
  5. Reward yourself: It’s also worthwhile having something to look forward to on Monday, whether it’s catching up with a friend, wearing your favorite sweater, or making yourself a yummy meal. Joyful interactions and nourishing meals can help restore your energy.

Sometimes the blues don’t stop on Monday. If your symptoms persist and self-care routines aren’t working, you may consider speaking with a mental health professional about your concerns.

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The takeaway

When you’re living with chronic depression, your mood is unlikely to improve simply because the weekend is approaching.

Likewise, if the source of your Monday blues is profound hopelessness or job dissatisfaction, a fun and relaxing weekend won’t alleviate these depressive symptoms and work stress.

However, living with a mental health condition doesn’t have to stop you from using coping strategies to improve your well-being.

Making small and lasting changes is the most effective way to tackle the Monday blues.

Medically reviewed on December 26, 2023

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About the author

Nandini Maharaj

Nandini Maharaj, PhD is a freelance writer covering health, work, identity, and relationships. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and a PhD in public health. She’s committed to providing thoughtful analysis and engaging wellness content. Her work has appeared in HuffPost, American Kennel Club, Animal Wellness, Introvert, Dear, and POPSUGAR. She is a dog mom to Dally, Rusty, and Frankie. Find her on Twitter or her website.

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